I know, I'm late, but I have an excuse (or several excuses). Let's see, in the time that I haven't updated, I have: moved while my old house gets an addition done, had to work hours on end at a friends house to do a video project on Julius Caesar for English (we did a commercial of Caesar selling daggers, in 'honor' of the Ides of March (March 15), which is the day he was killed ), write a report on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, do my subject selection for my classes next year, and (my favorite) actually started making my movie (that's been about a year in coming)! You'll find more on my movie in my profile if you're interested.
Okay, last chapter we covered the Physical element of torture. Next chapter will probably be more Physical torture. Eventually I'll get to Psychological torture (there's a little here if you squint hard enough). This chapter is just an excuse to get Aang and Azula talking some more.
I had some pretty good comments/questions in the reviews for the last chapter so I'll have some responses at the end of this update. M'kay? On to the story!
I don't own Avatar.
Frozen Water, Broken Spirits
Aang's head shot up; his eyes wide as ice cold water was poured over him.
"Good morning, Avatar," The guard with the bucket of water snarled before retreating out of the room as the Princess walked in.
"It's morning?" Aang asked, dazed. His eyes were still trying to adjust to the blinding light of the four torches on the cell's walls. "Wait, it was night?"
The Princess said nothing. Of course it wasn't morning; the sun had just set a few minutes ago. The Avatar had been holed up in this cell for no more than five hours, but he had no way of knowing. He was unconscious most of the time, and she could use that to her advantage. It would work towards her benefit for the Avatar to believe he has been here longer than he really has.
When Aang realized that Azula wasn't going to respond, he looked down. There was now a bandage that wrapped around and behind his left knee, and another fairly large bandage on his right calf. He didn't even remember what happened to his leg after Azula had cut behind his knee, but the evidence shows that she wanted to keep going. He was surprised how little pain he felt now, but any pain can be considered small compared to what he was put through earlier.
The silence in the room was… scary. Whenever Azula walked in before, she had gotten right down to business, but now, she has been standing in the same spot for at least three minutes staring at the wall. And it was making Aang uneasy. Despite his every struggle against it, he cracked under the pressure and spoke up.
"Why am I here? What do you want from me?"
Azula remained silent, not even acknowledging that there was someone else in the room.
"If you wanted to kill me, you would've done that already." Aang elaborated. "You keep saying that you're waiting for me to give you something. Why don't you tell me what it is; I might just give it to you."
Azula smirked; something that Aang couldn't see because he couldn't turn his head to see her. "You aren't ready, Avatar." Azula's explanation was short, but it was enough to send the message to him.
"So you're just gonna torture me until I cave in? That's the great, devious plot, straight from the mind of the grand Fire Nation royal family?"
Her smirk was still there. "Occam's razor, Avatar. The simplest solution is often the best." (more on that in the 2nd A/N)
"And this is coming from the person who tried to use a giant drill to go through the Wall of Ba-Sing-Se?"
Azula's smirk turned to a slight frown. "The Drill was a mistake. After the fall of the Earth Kingdom, I learned that such extravagant measures are not necessary. After all, I was able to overthrow Ba-Sing-Se with nothing but some costumes and the help of my brother."
Aang's face contorted with sadness at the memory of Ba-Sing-Se's downfall. The downfall he let happen. A downfall that could have been avoided if he just let go of his attachment to Katara like he was told. And what was worse, the time where he was struck down by the Princess herself, leaving her mark forever, and left Katara to fight off both Firebender and Earthbender alike, the time where she needed him most.
After Katara nursed him back to health (something that he was sure he didn't deserve), he refused to ever speak to Katara about it, who luckily, never questioned him about it (Sokka and Toph would say that she had her own reasons for burying those memories). Instead, Aang looked for counsel in his other friends, needing to spill out everything that he had learned and get some second opinions. They had actually been very helpful, and it felt good to have someone to discuss things that he couldn't otherwise with Katara. One day he even told Sokka that he loved the waterbender, and was grateful when he received not only his permission, but his support as well.
All these thoughts flooded Aang when the Princess mentioned that one horrible night. And as would be expected with someone in his condition, it made him feel faint. He lowered his head and closed his eyes to catch a breath. Upon opening them, his vision refocused on the floor, where a puddle of water lay at his bare feet.
Aang quietly gasped. Water…
There wasn't much to work with, but just maybe… A distraction was necessary. Just something to get the Princess to let him-
"Your food will arrive here shortly." She interrupted his thoughts. "Expect another visit from me later." She began to head towards the door.
"Wait!" Aang reacted quickly, barely having time to be shocked that he will be fed. The Princess stopped walking. "I, umm, need to use the bathroom."
"Go ahead, no one's stopping you." She said matter-of-factly and continued walking.
"Are you sure you want to come in here and torture me while standing in my filth?" Apparently, Aang's mind was functioning on its own. He didn't even know where he had come up with such a viable excuse.
Upon reflection, the Princess almost let herself shudder at the thought. Torturing the Avatar was one thing but there are certain lengths that no Royalty should have to go.
Azula walked up to the guards at the door. "Escort the Avatar to a restroom. Make sure he is quick about it."
"Yes, my Princess." The guards replied in unison as she began to walk down the corridor. Suddenly she stopped and turned around.
"And if the Avatar should try to escape," The Princess smirked. "Well, use your imaginations."
Aang, who was inside the cell, heard her remark. He gulped and looked at the water again.
"Yes, my Princess." The guards said again as she walked away. They entered the room and began undoing the Avatar's shackles.
They flew through the darkening light of day and warm evening air as the sun set before them on the distant horizon. The pilot's spot on Appa's head was currently vacant; Sokka, Katara and Toph were all sitting on his back as he flew to the Western Coast on his own.
The trip passed in silence. Katara was staring blankly at the empty spot on Appa's head where Aang would normally be seated. She cursed herself a hundred times over for ever ignoring him on these long flights like she would occasionally do, and thought about exactly what she would give to have him sitting there with her right now. She made a mental note to never leave his side during one of these trips again.
Sokka was entirely out of sync with his usual behavior. He now remained quiet; his brows furrowed and a slight frown on his face. He was obviously deep in thought. Every once in a while, his vision would stray to Aang's staff, which was currently still in Katara's grasp and end up staring at it for some time.
Toph was the hardest to read. She just looked… sad. No one could tell what she was thinking. Through the whole trip, she just sat there with the same frown and gloomy look in her milky eyes. Every once in a while, she would open her mouth to say something, but would quickly reconsider and return to her silence.
"It's my fault they have him." Sokka suddenly said. Both Katara and Toph craned their necks to look at him. Sokka took their silence as a sign to continue.
"I could have told him not to go; I could have stopped him. But instead, I wanted him to go and get you back, Katara." He stared at Appa's back as he spoke.
"I pretty much told him to go through with it." Sokka ended. Still, the others were quiet.
"It's not your fault, Sokka," Katara finally told him. "If anything, it's mine. I'm the one who got captured by Azula in the first place."
"It's not your fault," Sokka dismissed her last thought. "How can you blame an accident like getting captured on yourself?"
Katara turned her head to face Aang's empty spot. "If it weren't for my 'accident,' we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place."
"You're being too hard on yourself," Toph finally entered the conversation. "You too, Snoozles." Sokka looked at her at hearing his 'name.'
"It's no one's fault," She continued. "It just happened. Twinkle-Toes chose to go on his own; and he would've done it no matter who got captured. We can't waste time arguing about whose fault it is that he's gone; he just is. Now we have to get him back. So stop feeling sorry for yourselves and pay attention to where we're going."
Both Katara and Sokka stared wide-eyed at earthbender, not expecting such a wise interjection, least of all from her. Suddenly feeling guilty for focusing on something as trivial as the blame for Aang's capture rather than searching for him, they turned their gaze out in-front of them, where they could just barely see the ocean shore, and hopefully, the Fire Nation docks.
He walked down that familiar metal corridor, the small amount of water he could gather suspended in the closed fist of his right hand, waiting for the best moment he could get. If he was going to do this, he would need to separate the two guards; there was just not enough water to fight off the both of them. There was barely enough water to fight off one of them.
Well, whatever he was going to do, he needed to do it fast; they were about to come up on the door to one of the ship's restrooms.
This is going to be impossible… Aang's mind told him as he practically dragged his own body across the floor. Neither of his legs were in the condition to be lifting him up, yet here he was, limping his way to the bathroom, about to kill at least one of the guards watching over him.
Kill… Aang never really did like that word too much. In fact, he refrained from killing his enemies whenever possible, a feat not easily achieved when trying to end a war. The only times he ever really killed anyone was when he was in the Avatar State, and even that he couldn't forgive himself for. So why was he here, fully in control of his body, about to kill a man without as much as a second thought?
Aang chose not to dwell on it. Maybe it would make all of this easier. Either way, now was not the time to think about it. He was at the door.
One of the guards opened the door and the other roughly shoved him by the arm into the small room.
"Hurry up." One of the guards barked in a low voice to his back.
Aang's fist tightened slightly as he began to freeze the water into something usable. He nodded mechanically at the guards' command.
Just as Aang was about to close the door, the guard reached out and painfully grabbed him by the wrist, showing a sadistic smile.
"I'll take that water you're hiding now, Avatar."
Okay, not the most eventful chapter, this is mostly plot forwarding by having Sokka, Katara and Toph flying towards the docks. There is also a little bit of purpose behind Aang's failed escape attempt. That's that small amount of Psychological torture I mentioned. I will not mention how it is Psychological torture because I don't want to give any future events away.
That thing I mentioned in the story, Occam's Razor (named for William of Ockham, a 14th century logician); yeah I know it doesn't belong in the Avatarverse, but it fit the line I was writing at the moment. It is a principle of logic that states that when all possible variables are equal, the simplest solution is often the best. So that's it for that.
Any of you have any clues as to what Azula's plan is? Why don't you guess and make me laugh? Lol. I'll tell you right now, it's not your generic 'serve the Fire Nation' scheme. I want to see how many people can get close to my idea before it actually happens. If any of you guess right, well, I'll give you one E-Cookie. I'd give you a normal cookie, but, unfortunately, I think I ate them all. –belch-
Thanks for all your reviews, guys! Here are those responses I promised:
-ElicityFay: Well, that's the reaction I was going for. Azula's plan will be unorthodox, I'll promise you that much.
-kataangfan22: I can stand it pretty easily, actually. I figure, after almost 25 chapters of good, wholesome fluff in "Aang, Katara, and a Plan," it's time for a change of scenery.
-crailis: You're my second twitcher! Yay! Like I said, that was the reaction I was aiming for.
-frozenheat: His change of character will be subtler in some places than others. I put a little bit of it here with that part about killing the guard.
-libowiekitty: I think that's why this site exists, to read stuff that we will never see in the book/show/movie or whatever other genre they have here. And thank God that it does exist, because there is so much on this site that I would love to see in the show…
-Invaderk: I knew someone was going to mention that. As I showed in this chapter, I wanted Sokka to feel kinda low and helpless after the trade. I mean, he practically sold his best friend out to the people who are always trying to kill him, so yeah. He would sorta feel like a traitor.
-TTAvatarfan: The thing about the nerves close to the surface of the skin behind the knee was prior knowledge (not exactly 'innocent' knowledge, though, as there are other uses for sensitive areas on the body ;) ), and that spot above your shoulder blade I learned from Fox's hit show, '24.' It's loaded with torture/interrogation scenes, so it's definitely going to be helping me throughout this story.
-Liselle129: Real… That's the best interpretation of it I've gotten so far. I want this war to seem like an actual war, not what we see in cartoons. I want it to be realistic and I want it to incite that feeling in your gut when you think about what really happens during a war; prisoners and all. I'm trying to take a big leap off of my usual writing to show that. I think I do actually interpret Azula a little differently than others because I want to show that even she has a human side, which leads me to those smiles. Those smiles are there with reason, but I can't give it away without giving away her plan. All I can say is read the last two sentences in the 3rd paragraph of your review and it might come to you. I don't think the torture will be too long, but Aang's rescue will be the end of the story. However, I'm already planning a sequel (yeah, I know, that was fast) that could very well go in this story, but I want Aang's time as a prisoner and Aang's time free to be grouped up separately. The sequel will be the one to really deal with love, so, unfortunately, you'll have to wait a while to see love pull through. (PS- what is it with me and long reviews/responses to you? I think this is the longest paragraph in the update. Lol.)
-Princess Yue: Well, it's not going to be like 'Silence of the Lambs (a really fricken' scary movie)' gory, but I'd slap a "Viewer Discretion Advised" warning on here if I could.
And thanks to all those other reviewers who I didn't mention above!